Showing posts with label " 1001 Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label " 1001 Movies. Show all posts

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's a Matter of "Pride" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Pride," DVDs "Godzilla" "Venus in Fur" and the book "I'll Drink to That" by long-time Bergdorf Goodman premiere personal shopper, which fashionistas will enjoy.  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" and share this week's "A-HA Moment" - "Do you know how to apologize?"]

It's a Matter of "Pride"


An unlikely alliance is struck in 1984 between a U.K. gay activist group and striking coal miners.

This is a real-life account of the famous 1984-1985 coal miner's strike in the U.K and the real life alliance between a London fund-raising group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) and the Welsh village of Onllwyn.

The film begins in 1984 in London where Mark (played by the wonderful Ben Schnetzer, who you might recognize from "The Book Thief (I know I did)," and who is also wonderfully handsome by the way) and his friends are marching in a gay pride parade.  They are joined by Joe (George MacKay - "How I Live Now") who is 20 and just feeling his way out of the closet (his parents do not know he is gay).  Gethin (Andrew Scott) and Jonathan (Dominic West who is currently starring in "The Affair" on Showtime) are a couple and own a gay and lesbian bookstore from which the activists operate. 

Mark is clearly the leader and decides that they are not the only people who are being oppressed. The coal miners are in the midst of a strike in the Thatcher dominated UK.  Thatcher wants to close the mines, the pits, as they are called, and the coalminers walked out in protest.  But Thatcher was a hard-ass and the miners were struggling.  Like the beatings that gay men were often getting, so too the coal miners were being disrespected and beaten. Mark decides that he and his group need to step up and help.  But it becomes clear, the miners are not particularly taken with being helped by a bunch of gay men and women.  Mark and his friends name themselves "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" and quite literally pick a village off the map - Onllwyn, Wales - and make it their focal point.  They enlist the help of one of the activist miners, Dai (Paddy Considine) and descend upon the residents of Onllwyn, some of whom welcome them, some of whom very decidedly do not.

This story has been told many times before and no one does working class people coming together for the common good better than the Brits and this film is no different except it comes with a bit of a twist:  striking Welsh coalminers and a gay and lesbian group.  And the side stories of the miners and their families coming to grips with their own bigotry and the gay men whose families don't accept them, all in the shadow of AIDS, are especially moving.

If you are a fan of British films, you will recognize many of the faces: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Considine. They do a great job as do the newcomers, Schnetzer, MacKay and Jessica Gunning

This film is funny, poignant, bittersweet and inspiring, and as they say in the U.K. - it's bloody brilliant!  If you don't stand up and cheer at the end (well, feel like doing that at least), there's something wrong with you.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked "Billy Elliot," "The Full Monty" and "Kinky Boots," you will love this film.


You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)

Godzilla (2014)

Modern remake of the classic 1950's original
(no one likes to talk about the 1998 remake).

It seems that all of that nuclear testing that took place in the 1950's was really trying to kill Godzilla.  Who knew?  But now there is a whole lotta shaking going on and Godzilla is waking up and so are some other really nasty creatures.

The movie begins with the meltdown of a nuclear power plant that kills the wife in a husband and wife team of scientists, Joe and Sandra Brody (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche).  Fast forward 15 years to San Francisco where their son, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), returns from his job as a military bomb expert to his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and his young son, only to be summoned to Japan because his father, Joe, one of those scientists seen earlier in the nuclear plant, has been arrested for trespassing on said nuclear plant because he believes something fishy is going on.  His son thinks his Dad is a conspiracy theory nut job, but it turns out Joe is right. 

Something is going on but it's not exactly fishy.  It's more like something MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms).  Scientists have been keeping a cocooned radioactive insect contained in Japan.  Why?  That's the problem.  Seems kind of stupid since the insect is being contained with massive doses of radiation which is sapping energy.  Turns out there is another one, a female, being kept in the States and when these creatures escape they cause mass destruction, because they want to mate and make more MUTOS.  And that won't be good for humanity.  It's up to Godzilla to save the day.  Yes, Godzilla is the good guy.

Sally Hawkins, Ken Wantanbe and David Strathairn round out the cast but have little more than cameos. Likewise, Binoche was only on the screen for a few minutes. How this film drew that many big names for bit parts is anybody's guess.
But sometimes nothing hits the movie spot like some monsters.  I get that way sometimes.  Unfortunately, you don't get to see Godzilla until you have spent almost an hour waiting for him.  But once the film gets going, it's a lot of fun in that monster movie way.  But I couldn't help thinking how much better it would have been on the big screen in Imax and 3-D.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are in the mood for some monsters and are not expecting "Citizen Kane," you will enjoy this.

Venus in Fur (2013)

Roman Polanski directs his real life wife (Emmanuelle Seigneur) in this film adaptation of David Ives' Tony winning play of the same name about a determined actress who is trying to convince a director she is perfect for his play.
The movie begins with a director, Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), on the phone complaining that he can't find anyone suitable for the lead in the play is going to be directing, an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's (he's where we get sado-masochism from) 1870 erotic novel about sado-masochism called "Venus in Furs (not to be confused with the song by the Velvet Underground)." Vanda blows in on a rainy night, late, wet, scattered, slightly trampy and wearing a dog collar.  She ironically has the same name as the character she is auditioning for (which may or may not be true). Thomas is unimpressed with her.  She is chewing gum, seemingly uneducated, but she also has a copy of the play, much to Thomas' surprise, and has even brought a costume with her.  She finally persuades him to let her read for the role.  As they read together and Vanda transforms herself into the refined upper class lady Thomas is seeking, Vanda teeters between the character Vanda and her own persona.  Slowly but surely an erotic game of cat and mouse begins and the tables are turned.  His misogyny gives way to her feminism and he finds himself humiliated. 
Almaric looks so much like Polanski himself, I thought it was he at first until I realized Polanski would be much older.  This is a two-hander, which means the two actors carry the show, which is in fact a play within a play within a film and Polanski throws in several homages to his own past directorial efforts, which will be fun for filmophiles to detect.
 Rosy the Reviewer says...Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but it's all about the acting here.

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project"
306 to go!

Gun Crazy (1950)

This could be the poster child for the NRA.  Kid grows up crazy about guns and ends up using them to rob and kill.  Nice.

Bart Tare (John Dall) had a fascination for guns from an early age.  After a stint in the military, he meets and falls madly in love with Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), a sideshow sharpshooter.  They embark on a life of crime that culminates in an elaborate plot to steal the payroll of a meat-packing plant.  Things don't work out too well for them.

A common device in B movies was the "deadly female" leading the hapless boyfriend astray.  So no surprise that this film was also released under the title "Deadly is the Female."  It's too bad that when a female character has "spunk," she is usually a baddie.  And she talks tough too..."You will never make big money.  You are a two bit guy."

My Dad taught me to read the credits and look for actors and actresses on their way up, possibly with their original names. Here, the young Bart is played by Rusty Tamblyn, who grew up to be Russ Tamblyn of "West Side Story" fame (he was Riff). 
Why it's a must see: ...aesthetic innovations within low budget constraints -- the long single shot scene of a bank robbery, the chase through an abattoir --and in [the] peerless characterization of a psychotic femme fatale.  This timeless tale of amour fou was a major influence on Jean-Luc Godard's French New Wave classic "Breathless (1960)."
---"100" Movies You Must See Before You Die."

I should add MacKinlay Kantor and Dalton Trumbo wrote the screenplay, though Trumbo under a pseudonym because he had been blacklisted - he was one of the famous Hollywood Ten.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like the "B" films of old, this is a good one.

Fight Club (1999)

A mild mannered guy (Edward Norton) has such a boring life, he attends support groups just to have someone to talk to, until he meets Tyler, who shows him that fighting will give him a better life.

"The first rule about Fight Club is that you don't talk about Fight Club.  The second rule about Fight Club is that you don't talk about Fight Club." 

So go the rules as laid down by Tyler (Brad Pitt), in this movie version of Chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name and directed by David Fincher, who went on to direct "The Social Network," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and, most recently, "Gone Girl."

Our hero, if you can call him that, narrates his own story.  He is depressed and isolated so he attends 12-step meetings so he can feel better about his own life.  He notices a woman who appears to be doing the same thing he is.  Marla (Helena Bonham Carter).  When he meets Tyler, his seeming opposite, he is led into a secret society of men who find redemption by beating the crap out of each other.

Not sure how I missed this one the first time around.  I think I was scared it was too violent (and it IS violent) or maybe I was in a rom-com phase.  Amidst the violence, the film is also humorous and ironic and it's powerful:  from the art direction to the acting to the twist ending, which has been used in a couple of films since, so I saw it coming.  And who can resist Meat Loaf with enormous breasts?
Why it's a must see: "...David Fincher's film stakes out manly territory in 1999's most intriguing and angry, yet witty cinematic fantasy...[it's] an exciting, distressingly inspiring movie that makes even the strangest event seem normal..."
---"100" Movies You Must See Before You Die."

Rosy the Reviewer says...whether or not you agree with the message here, you would have to agree that this film is original and fresh, and when a film is original and fresh, I am all over it. 

***Book of the Week***
A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich

Betty Halbreich, who has been the legendary personal shopper (though she hates that moniker) for Bergdorf Goodman for over 40 years, shares her personal story and her personal fashion sense.

Halbreich grew up a privileged only child and is old enough (86) to remember when one was supposed to wear gloves on an airplane (sounds like MY mother).  She has helped to style costumes for the actors in Woody Allen films and soaps as well as every day fashion for the rich and not so rich women off the street. She has a strong idea of what is right and wrong in fashion and in life.

But there are many anachronisms that show her age.  One that I particularly enjoyed was her no longer being able to carry a small purse once she no longer had a husband.  I guess your husband is supposed to carry all of your essentials in his pockets so you can carry a tiny fashionable clutch!  Nowadays you just see the husband carrying the purse!

She married young and her husband turned out to be a womanizer and alcoholic and when they finally split up, she had a nervous breakdown.  When she was able to pull herself together, she fell into a job at Bergdorf Goodman, which gave her purpose, even though working was not something her class did in those days. Working the floor as a salesperson was not her cup of tea, but she was able to carve a niche for herself as a personal shopper.  She became beloved for her tactful but honest opinions. She is so opinionated that she won't sell something that she thinks is too expensive or wrong for her "patients," er, clients. She thinks of them almost as patients because they share so much with her of their lives and there is an intimacy in helping people find what looks good on their bodies.  That's why people go to her.  She tells it like it is but has great compassion for people.

"I wasn't beyond letting a client walk out empty-handed.  An appointment was a failure in my eyes only if the woman didn't walk away feeling better than when she came in.  That was challenge enough with all that people have to endure."
Rosy the Reviewer says...Halbreich is a true original and her views on fashion, etiquette and manners are fascinating.  If you love fashion and candid memoirs, you will enjoy this book.

**My A-HA Moment of the Week**
People don't seem to know how to apologize anymore.
These are NOT apologies:
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"If I hurt you, I'm sorry."
"I deeply regret..."
"I am sorry you misinterpreted what I said."
"We both said things we regret."
"I am sorry this happened."
"If I made a mistake, I'm sorry."
(or any statement that begins with "If")
These statements imply that you didn't do anything wrong and actually puts the blame back on the person you are apologizing to.  An apology must include YOUR responsibility.
Also don't try to justify yourself. Avoid the word "but."
"I'm sorry I hurt you but this is really hard for me too."
This is what a real sincere apology sounds like:
"I am sorry I hurt you.  I didn't mean to do that."
"I can see that I hurt you by what I said.  I am really sorry."
"I realize what I did and said was really shitty and I am SO sorry."
Remember, an apology has two components: 1) Admission of error. 2) Regret for the action.

Something I am sure we all need to work on.

Thanks for Reading!


See you Tuesday


"My Son"



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Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 


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Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."